Was Bill Cosby On Trial Due To Race?

In high school, you’re taught to use credible sources when writing a research paper. A primary source involves firsthand knowledge about a person, event or object while a secondary source is information that was created by someone who did not experience or participate first hand in an event. Ironically, a newspaper article can be both a primary and secondary source. If it is a factual account of events, recording the events as they happened, it is a primary source. If the article is interpreted or has opinion interjected, it is considered a secondary source. Distinguishing between the two was relatively easy until the age of the Internet and the advent of media bias.

Media bias occurs when the media systematically emphasizes one particular point of view in a way that contravenes the standards of professional journalism. Coupled with the fact that people can no longer differentiate between opinion and fact, folk readily jump to conclusions and make rash decisions due to questionable information sources, stereotypes and their own personal biases. With regard to the Bill Cosby trial, race has been an underlying issue in the media and among supporters and protesters.

I can admit that race was one of my underlying issues as a black woman and mother to a black boy. I possess an African-American Studies degree from Howard University and radiate black pride. I prefer Malcolm over Martin and Booker T. over DuBois. I believe desegregation did us a disservice. I believe our Ferguson activists who were “found dead” is racially motivated. Cops killing our young men and women is racially motivated and the disproportionate number of African-Americans in jail and their length of sentencing is definitely racially motivated. And I understand racism in America not only because I studied it; but because I experienced it. But because my biases cross both sides of the aisle, I’m also a survivor of sexual assault, I decided to witness the Cosby trial firsthand to see if racism played any part in it. My son’s life and the issue of sexual assault are too important to leave in the hands of strangers tainted with their own personal biases.

Purchasing NBC

Cosby sought to purchase NBC in 1992 and in a 1994 interview he was asked if he would try again. He said, quote, “No, it’s over. Couldn’t get it.” General Motors, who owned NBC at the time, said no to him before allegations of sexual assault ever surfaced. In 2015, Cosby was working with the network to air another sitcom when NBC decided to sever all ties. Comedian Hannibal Burris had joked in 2014 that Bill Cosby was a rapist and the floodgates of accusations opened.

Let’s make sure you read that right. NBC severed all ties in 2015. Andrea Constand went to the police with allegations in 2005 about a 2004 incident. So even after she gave her statement, NBC was still willing to work with him.

The Charges

Bill Cosby was charged with three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault. Count 1 alleged that Cosby didn’t have consent when he penetrated Constand’s genitals with his fingers. Count 2 alleged she was unconscious or semi-unconscious at the time and could not give consent. Count 3 alleged all this happened after he gave her an intoxicant that substantially impaired her and stopped her from resisting.

Let’s be real. Some of y’all have done this. You ply a woman with drinks and wait for her fall asleep or pass out before performing some sort of sexual act. While at the trial, I was told stories by men who were sexually assaulted by women and became fathers as a result. Whether is a man or woman, prior relationship or not, the victim can press charges.

The Judge

Judge Steven T. O’Neill is nicknamed ‘the whistler’ and is considered a ‘regular guy.’ He’s respected and well-liked by employees of the court and residents of Norristown. I happened to speak to a local resident, a black woman, while the jury was deliberating. She sat next to me and told me about her upcoming case. Some family property was sold and she wasn’t given her fair share. She didn’t like the judge who would be presiding and was looking for a way to get Judge O’Neill to preside. She said he was reputed for being kind and fair, residents of all races respected his decisions and she personally loved the fact that he whistled down the hallway.

Prosecution

The prosecution called Kelly Johnson to the stand to give her testimony about an incident with Bill Cosby. Her alleged assault occurred in 1996 and she was the only alleged victim allowed to testify. If the judge was unfair or a racist, he would have allowed other accusers to testify. But O’Neill said that the incidents were too far in the past and he didn’t allow it. I spoke to an attorney who explained that even four women testifying would have sent a message to the jury that Cosby exhibited a pattern of sexual assault.

Many people believe that Kelly Johnson and Andrea Constand were conspiring but the timeline doesn’t support such a claim. Kelly gave her testimony in 1996 to a workmen compensation claim and Andrea gave her report to the police department in 2005. They both live on opposite sides of the US and as the district attorney pointed this out, Cosby was vigorously shaking his head in the affirmative! So Cosby agreed that these women never knew each other and were not conspiring.

Testimony

In Cosby’s deposition, he said he believed Andrea and her mom are honest people and that they are not out to extort him or receive “hush money.”

Joseph Miller, a white worker’s compensation lawyer, testified that Kelly Johnson filed a claim against Cosby’s agency, William Morris. In her deposition to him and another white man, she described the abusive treatment she suffered from Cosby’s agent, the late Tom Illius. She was asked to return the next day to finish her statement and when she began to discuss what happened with Bill Cosby, Miller decided not to transcribe her testimony. He even admitted that her testimony about Cosby hastened them to ssettleher claim.

Kelly reported the assault to the police and the white officer advised her to not press charges and “go up against Bill Cosby.”

When Andrea Constand filed a report with the Montgomery County police, the police chief had a closed door meeting. So only a handful of officers were aware of the accusation.

Detective Schaffer of the Montgomery County Police Department was chosen to investigate the case and on the witness stand said he conducted a background check on Andrea but it was “not necessarily for Andrea Constand. It was for Cosby to make sure she was legit.” Later in his testimony, he said, “…to protect Mr. Cosby’s interests.”

After hearing testimony from Constand and Cosby, a judge wouldn’t or couldn’t sign a search warrant but Cosby did consent to a search.

A sexual assault expert took the stand to explain the reasons why victims don’t speak up. She noted not only because of the criticism and harassment faced by the perpetrator’s supporters, but they don’t speak up because of shame, guilt and fear. If you really care to understand why sexual assault victims don’t speak up, read this or peruse the comments found in the Twitter hashtag #whysurvivorsdontreport.

Defense

The judge wouldn’t hear testimony from Marguerite Jackson, a woman who claimed to have been roommates with Andrea during an away game. I read the statement presented to the press and decided to call her myself. I immediately asked her how she felt about all this and she responded, “I don’t know how I feel. She (Andrea) plotted and planned.” When I asked her the timeline of this statement, she wasn’t sure if it was said before she met Cosby or while they were friends. Then I asked her if Andrea ever told you about her visits to his home and she was only told of a dinner party Andrea attended with others which led me to believe they aren’t really friends.

Now, let’s break this down. Marguerite said Andrea plotted to set Bill up. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Andrea and Bill both admitted to being introduced by a Temple employee. That employee was with Bill at the time of the introduction. Cosby admitted to upon seeing Andrea, he was romantically attracted to her and wanted to establish trust and a friendship first. Andrea never admitted to a romantic interest but believed Cosby was her friend and mentor. Also, if Marguerite was so infuriated by Andrea, why did SHE wait so long to give her statement? Unlike a sexual abuse survivor, there would have been no guilt, fear or shame on her part.

The judge would not permit Marguerite to testify because Andrea claimed to not know her even though Marguerite claims they had a friendship. The defense asked Andrea specifically if she knew Marguerite Jackson to which she replied no. That’s why Marguerite’s testimony was hearsay and inadmissible. BUT, if the defense had asked, “did you ever tell anyone that you would set up a rich, old man?” and Andrea responded no, then Marguerite’s testimony could have been introduced, proving Andrea to have lied. But because the defense didn’t ask, it was never allowed.

I also wondered why the defense didn’t take the time to prove they knew each other. The pulled Andrea’s phone records from Temple University. They could have easily pulled Marguerite’s and shown they knew one another. If they shared a room during an away game, they could have found the email or invoice proving they were in fact roommates. But the defense did none of this. I wonder why?

Conclusion

From what I witnessed and learned from area residents, lawyers, etc. Cosby wasn’t on trial because of his race although many African-American supporters have been making this unsubstantiated claim for years. Race did play a role but not in the way that you think:

While many African-Americans have taken up arms to defend their hero, what they fail to realize is that Cosby has been fully assimilated in mainstream (white) America for generations. And yes, he supported HBCUs and black causes during those years. But he also blatantly disrespected every black single mother, mother with multiple fathers and black boy shot for allegedly stealing from a convenience store in his NAACP Pound Cake Speech in 2004. He wants y’all to forget that speech as he runs back into the arms of the community he insulted.

But did you know it was because of his indignity toward those above and disdain for “names like Shaniqua, Shaligua, Mohammed” and “people with their hat on backward, pants down around the crack” that the Associated Press filed a motion to obtain documents related to a 2005 civil lawsuit against Cosby? The judge agreed to release the documents citing that Cosby’s Pound Cake Speech deemed him a public moralist and the public has a right to be made aware of his hypocrisy.

So who’s the racist now?

Zumba Through Depression

Please forgive me for saying this, but as a former half marathoner, I always thought Zumba was for sissies.

It’s a workout, yes, but it surely doesn’t compare to the weekly miles, hill repeats and long runs necessary to prepare for a half marathon. Many of my Zumba friends testified to its effectiveness, but it wasn’t just effectiveness I was after.

I was after that runner’s high. Every runner knows the feeling. It’s when you’re one with the wind and despite how long you’ve been on a run, you feel no pain… only pure joy.

However, when my life came crashing down, I was unable to chase that high. Suffering from knee pain shortly after my last half marathon of 2013, I had learned a good friend of mine was murdered. On top of that, I had decided to separate from my husband. It was never my intention to divorce, it was my hope that he’d seek counseling while I worked through my grief. Unfortunately or fortunately, that did not happen. We divorced the following year.

Devastated, heartbroken and still grieving my friend’s death, I slipped into a deep depression. I cried for months, barely ate and withdrew from everyone and everything that brought me happiness. Because my behavior had begun to affect my job performance, I eventually sought a counselor who prescribed anti-depressants. And after a few months of “happy pills,” I started to feel like my old self.

But anyone who’s ever taken anti-depressants knows that the nausea, headaches and constant fatigue can be just as crippling as the depression itself. I fought through the side effects because it meant keeping my job and reconnecting with friends and family. Plus, it also motivated me to run again. So, for a few months, I was able to run comfortably until not just one knee, but both knees, started to bother me. Eventually, I was unable to run at all.

That’s when the weight started to pile on.

Weight gain was another side effect of the antidepressants, and in addition to my sedentary lifestyle, it was only inevitable. After reaching my heaviest weight ever, it finally motivated me to do something. I weaned myself off of the meds and recalling my love for spin, joined a gym. But the classes no longer excited me. Actually, nothing excited me. But I refused to slip back into that fog of depression and fought through it. Staring at the gym class schedule posted on a door one day, a woman walked past me and said, “You might as well stop staring at it and come on in.”

And it changed my life.

The first thing I noticed when walking in was the Zumba instructor’s joy. It was contagious. Also, she was dressed in a cute, hot pink outfit and was wearing full makeup. Who does that? Anyway, when the music started, I caught on to the moves quickly and found myself smiling. I used to love to dance. Staring in the mirror, my pot belly, love handles and saddlebags started to make me feel self-conscious. Eventually, though, I stopped staring at how I looked and danced away. Twenty minutes in, it took all of my strength not to fall to my knees and cry.

I felt euphoric. And it was better than any runner’s high. It took all of my strength not to run up to the instructor and give her a bear hug. Because of her energy and the music, my sexiness started to return with each beat… with every eight count. You can’t really fight it when you’re winding to songs such as ‘Shake Your Body’ or ‘I’m Too Sexy.’ This was the first step to getting me back. Oh, how I missed her.

Am I still suffering from depression? Yes, I am. I’m still in counseling and my doctor found another prescription drug with less side effects. I still have issues to work through and get over but this time, I won’t wallow my way through it. Instead, I’m going to Zumba through it.

(first appeared in Huffington Post 9/1/2016)

Play Review: Ask A Sex Abuse Survivor

Let me start this off by first saying: I love Philly. I moved here last fall and am in awe of the creative vibe. There are truly some talented artists, musicians, writers and poets in this city. I attended a few poetry slams and an event at the Philadelphia Museum where I tried my hand at origami and painted a very elementary picture of a house.

But this past weekend, I checked my Facebook events and noticed Michael Broussard’s play, Ask A Sex Abuse Survivor, was playing in three hours. It was time to make a decision: do I lounge in the bed all day watching my third Game of Thrones marathon or do I venture outside? This past week, my depression had hit pretty heavily so I turned to the perfect distraction – GOT.

This time, though, I decided to get out of bed and go somewhere.

When the GPS indicated that the Adrienne Theater is on Sansom Street, I almost walked back in the house. I hate driving in downtown Philly. But I fought the urge and made my way to the theater. And as luck would have it, I found a parking space just yards from the theater!

As soon as I walked in, I knew I was late. But to make matters worse, I opened the stage door! I shut it quickly as the audience laughed and Michael directed me to the correct door.

Fortunately, I hadn’t missed much. His play is set up where he interacts with the audience, does a scene and breaks again to interact with the audience. I sat down just as he began the opening scene.

Michael described the boy he used to be before the abuse: fun-loving, trusting, innocent. And like most kids, he loved to dance, play outside and crack jokes. He also loved meeting new people and spending time with family, but this was all before the abuse. Like most victims, there’s a distinct disconnect between the person we were before we were raped and the person we become after the incident.

Michael is about ten years older than I and even he hasn’t managed to merge the two. I read once that we’re not supposed to think of the person before the abuse in the third person, but I tell you, it felt right when he referred to the old him in that way.

I don’t want to give the entire play away, but I will tell you that it’s a must-see for survivors. I already knew I wasn’t alone, but upon discovering his coping mechanisms were the same as mine…his pain was the same as mine, it shook me to know that someone else suffered the same as I and is standing before me whole. It can be done.

Women Organized Against Rape (WOAR) counselors were sitting in the audience. If someone rushed out of the theater crying or in a panic, they were there to follow them out and speak with them. Throughout the entire play, I thought it was going to be me. I couldn’t stop crying. I was having flashbacks and being triggered and trying to be strong all in the same moment. I kept staring at the door…I didn’t want to punk out and run. I wanted to hear his story.

And finally…it was over. I made it through. After speaking briefly with Michael, we took a picture and he asked me something that had been on my mind since I relocated to Philadelphia, “have you been back to the place where you were sexually abused?”

I’m crying as I write this…

I haven’t returned although something in me knows that I need to go back. I was first raped at five in Washington, DC. but the bulk of the abuse occurred in Princeton, NJ, less than one hour’s drive from my new town. To be honest, I didn’t even have the courage to cross the NJ state line and planned to never do so. I felt if I did I would be abused all over again. But, during the last two months, circumstances outside of my control led me over the bridge several times and each time I visited, my anxiety attacks lessened.

But to return to Redding Circle, I don’t know…

Before heading home, I stopped at the corner bar for a glass of wine. I needed to erase those thoughts. I didn’t want to drive home with tear-flooded eyes.

Plus, I needed to get back to my Game of Thrones marathon.

 

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Michael Broussard and me.

 


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This Mother’s Day, How Do You Measure Success?

While I was unsure what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always knew I wanted to be a mom. As a matter of fact, I wanted a house full of kids, boys mostly, making it decades before I’d ever have to experience the empty nest syndrome. My life took a different route so I only have two children. But hands down, being a mom has been the best job I’ve ever had. 

As I look back over my life, I strived to be successful in all things: a wife, employee, business owner, author, etc. I held various positions for a myriad of industries and I guess you can say I was successful. I never became CEO or EVP of a FORTUNE 500 with writeups in Forbes magazine or an appearance on Oprah! I never invented a new product or won a Nobel prize. But – if I had managed to do any of those things and my children were delinquents, drug addicted or simply unhappy, unruly or disrespectful, I would not have considered myself successful.  

I’m realizing now that I’ve always measured success by how my children turned out. Of course, I never wanted them to endure any form of abuse and I protected them with everything I had. But I also made sure to raise intelligent, emotionally mature citizens with a healthy compassion for others. I use the term healthy because I didn’t want them to be pushovers or suckers. Or prey. So not only did I work to instill empathy, I also taught them the mind games folk use to try to manipulate them. A lot of parents claim that kids don’t listen to adults, but that wasn’t the case for me. Both of my children heed my advice and make better choices because of it.

I know, there are thousands of wonderful parents whose children become lost. I do not blame them for it; some people are chosen to take a difficult path regardless of their upbringing. I pray they find their way back and become a light for those who’ve lost their way.

So I ask you, moms, how do you measure success for yourself and your children? And what are you doing to ensure that success?


 

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Healthy Boundaries for Mental Health Month

Recently, I made the decision to not return to corporate America. Not only for my mental sanity, but because I want to pour my time and energy into my writing. I’m not at the point where I can live off of book sales yet, I decided to drive for Lyft to supplement my income.

So far, everything has been going well. There were a couple of rude passengers but overall, most have been pleasant. So in anticipation of another friendly passenger, I pull up and confirm my arrival. When they entered the car, however, I knew this was going to be an unfavorable experience.

The woman and her partner entered my vehicle with an attitude. I have no idea why, but I gave them a friendly greeting and took off. They spent the entire time conversing with each other so I remained quiet as they chatted. After a few moments, my phone did an unexpected reset and I interrupted them for a moment to ask which exit to take; Lyft automatically starts the navigation so I barely caught a glimpse of the address. They both became incredibly rude and proceeded to insult me even after explaining that my phone shut off. But I remained polite, dropped them off then pulled over to give Lyft a thorough explanation for my rating.

I rated the passenger 1 star, hit send and Lyft responded immediately with the following:

“if you rate a customer 3 stars or below, we will do our best to not pair you up again.”

And it got me thinking:

How many relationships do we endure with people who, if there was such a rating system, would deserve 3 stars or less?  Why do we put ourselves through it?

According to Psychology Today, humans are ingrained with the belief that that which is familiar is likely to be safer than the unfamiliar. We further reason that if something is familiar, we obviously survived exposure to it so our brain is ok with steering us towards it. Simply put, we are hardwired to feel that the “known devil is better than the unknown angel.”

As survivors, we do the same thing but to our detriment. Our rational selves know he’s not good for us, this family member is toxic or this situation is not safe but something inside of us instinctively gravitates towards that person or situation which reinforces the wounded aspect of ourselves. And we intentionally hurt ourselves. Psychologists call it wounded attachment.

Laymen call it crazy.

As survivors, while we may yearn for better and tell ourselves we’ll do better next time, it’s tough to break such a cycle; I’ve ridden that merry-go-round my entire life. But now I’m ready to hop off. No more will I put myself in dangerous situations or tolerate toxic relationships. Not only do I deserve better, but my children deserve better. Thankfully, my issues haven’t negatively impacted them, but they do know and understand everything I endured. They do better for themselves, but I want them to see their mom do better for herself.

Now, I rate everyone in my life on a 5-star scale and implement boundaries when necessary. Here’s my rating system:

5 STARS – This is my close-knit circle where we feel comfortable sharing dreams, secrets, and insecurities.

4 STARS – The people in this circle are not my confidants but they are trusted. We hang out and interact with each other on social media.

3 STARS – There hasn’t been much interaction so I’m unsure whether they can be trusted. Social media interaction is ok but they’re kept at arm’s length until I get to know them.

2 STARS – They’ve proven to be untrustworthy but because they’re attached in some way (i.e. family), little to no interaction is involved.

1 STAR – There’s absolutely no interaction.

Since utilizing this system, I’ve found consistent inner peace and the people pleasing desire has all but vanished.

As survivors, we endured so much in the past, we deserve as much 5-star treatment as we can get.



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Abuse Survivors and the Desire to Be Loved

Growing up abused as a child distorted the true definition of love. Instead of seeking the comfort and protection of a man, I looked instead for validation – someone who could fill this void in my heart. But because we associate pain with love, we inadvertently recreate the same environment we tried so hard from which to escape.

When you’re abused as a child, physically or sexually, you’re always subjected to emotional abuse. When it’s done by pedophiles, they call it grooming. According to the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse, grooming includes:

Fulfilling a Need

Most child abuse victims are neglected or abused at home. The parents may work outside the home, leaving their small children home alone. Unfortunately, both situations applied to me. For years, it felt as if my mother didn’t love me and on top of that, she and my stepfather worked outside of the home. So as a second grader, I was responsible for getting me and my little sister inside the house and safe until an adult arrived. I don’t blame my parents in any way for this. They needed to work. But because I was neglected and alone for hours, I was prey.

Pedophiles also groom adults. They fulfill a parent’s need by offering to babysit or drive the child around. It’s very common for abusers to marry the intended victim’s parent just to gain access to the child.

Lowering Inhibitions

Some molesters groom their victims by buying them gifts and giving them money. If the family is in financial need, this could be devastating. Some children grow up believing it wasn’t abuse. They may insist they were dating the abuser. But all sexual touching between an adult and child is sexual abuse.

Like me, you may go through life living with a cocktail mix of the above resulting in severe depression and sexual problems, including promiscuity, as well as alcohol or drug abuse. Simply put, self-destruction is almost always present and is sometimes the only visible clue that abuse ever occurred.

A counseling session or two never really resolves anything because healing from abuse isn’t linear. We struggle daily with triggers and flashbacks and it can be challenging for the strongest survivor. If someone has yet to embrace counseling, it’s possible she can go through life without ever healing from the abuse or learning how to manage episodes or bouts of low self-esteem.

All of this factors into their perspective on love.

Because psychologists describe love simply as havingstrong desire for an emotional union with another person, there’s no internal mechanism to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy love. That’s because our desire arises from loneliness and our need to feel accepted and cherished. So you can fall in love with an abuser just as easily as you could for someone who treats you right.

So given the challenges most victims face, how can we recognize healthy love? And even more important, can we embrace it without destroying the relationship?

Relationship experts list several characteristics to having a healthy relationship. Here are a few:

Healthy LoveFights Fair

This doesn’t mean you’ll never fight or he’ll never hurt your feelings. But the difference with healthy love is that he won’t attack you personally and he’ll never hit you. When you do fight or when he does hurt you, he’ll be apologetic and work to make amends. Unhealthy love looks at fights as an opportunity to attack, blame, coerce and reject you.

Healthy Love Is There Through the Hard Times

It’s so easy to love someone when things are going well. But when an obstacle strikes, that’s when relationships are truly tested. Healthy love works to resolve challenges together,doesn’t blame the other or disappear when the going gets tough. Unhealthy love seeks to have their partner fix the issue and rescue them.

There Is a Healthy Give and Take

A healthy love is evident when both partners desire to help the other without requiring anything in return. Sacrifices may have to be made but it will never be one-sided.Mutual trust is established and there’s never a doubt that your partner will have your back. Unhealthy love is selfish and incredibly one-sided. If you find yourself in such a relationship, you may feel drained and used and may go with having your needs unmet.

Healthy Love Doesn’t Try to Change You

When you’re in a healthy relationship, your partner has no desire to change you; he accepts your flaws. He may drive you to make improvements in some areas of your life, but overall, he’s looking to discover your interests, dreams and goals. In an unhealthy relationship, he wants you to become his image of an ideal partner. It may be your hair, clothing, hobbies, etc. and he’ll rarely support any interests of your own.

For a survivor to embrace healthy love without destroying it, she’ll have to first learn how to love herself first. But what’s ironic is that abuse victims search for love from others before they ever learn to love themselves..

The Super Bowl Sex Trafficking Fable

I LOVE football. And that may be an understatement. Since I was a child, I loved watching the games and I particularly loved watching my mom play outside with the neighborhood boys. She played quarterback, receiver, corner, etc. and always held her own. It was the coolest thing to watch.

As I got older, my love for the sport only grew. And when I was blessed with a son…man! Among his first words were da-da, ma-ma and touchdown. No lie. While he was in diapers, I would (gently) tackle him, yell touchdown and throw up my arms to signal the score. My ex husband warned me that our boy was going to be crazy for football. But that was the point.

When my son was finally old enough to play, I served as team mom. But before the start of his season, we’d road trip to several games. My bucket list was to visit every single NFL stadium and of course, I wanted to share the journey with my son. I even started a blog detailing our experience but abandoned it shortly before the divorce. I plan to pick it back up at the start of next year’s season.

My lifelong love for the sport and this day has been muddied by the allegation that the Super Bowl is the largest human trafficking event in the U.S. While there have never been statistics to prove it, the assumption has only gained momentum since it was first suggested by a Texas US Attorney General in 2011.

For years, I too believed the fabrication.

A 2011 report published by the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women researched sex trafficking statistics related to the World Cup, the Olympics and the Super Bowl and found:

“despite massive media attention, law enforcement measures and efforts by prostitution abolitionist groups, there is no empirical evidence that trafficking for prostitution increases around large sporting events.”

That goes for all large sporting events.

U.S. law enforcement does admit that prostitution takes place in and around the environs of each year’s Super Bowl, and some of that activity does involve the sex trafficking of minors and women. But on a scale of “zero” to “thousands” the numbers tip to the low-end of that spectrum. Typically, the number of persons arrested for sex trafficking-related crimes in FBI Super Bowl operations falls in the dozens rather than the thousands, and those numbers include locals who took advantage of a major event occurring in their neighborhood. Here are the facts from previous Super Bowls:

  • Said Phoenix police Sergeant Tommy Thompson after the 2008 Super Bowl: “We may have had certain precincts that were going gangbusters looking for prostitutes, but they were picking up your everyday street prostitutes. They didn’t notice any sort of glitch in the number of prostitution arrests leading up to the Super Bowl.”
  • Said Tampa police spokeswoman Andrea Davis after the 2009 Super Bowl: “We didn’t see a huge influx in prostitutes coming into Tampa. The arrests were not a lot higher. They were almost the same.”
  • Arlington, Texas, Deputy Chief Jaime Ayala reported after the 2011 Super Bowl that of the 59 people arrested on prostitution-related offenses, only 13 were non-local sex trade workers.

As a survivor of child sex abuse and a former stripper, the emotional and physical safety of women will always be my top priority. Love for a sport will never trump that. But, every year at this time the media dims the stadium lights with its misleading and erroneous information . And too many men, women and prevention advocates are wasting time debating and protesting a non-issue. It’s not the first time Americans have fallen for a smoke and mirrors trick.

The truth is that thousands of groupies flock to all sporting events looking to hook up with men. Out-of-town dancers and prostitutes also make trips hoping to capitalize off the thousands of drunk and presumably horny men. And horribly, young girls and women are forced into sex trafficking. But instead of spending countless hours and resources exaggerating and debating an embellishment, we should spend those same resources on sex trafficking prevention and rescue as well as the healing of both the unwilling and willing victim.

 

Sources:

Barton, Eric.   “Sun-Sentinel Front-Page Story Repeats Super Bowl Prostitution Urban Legend.”    Broward/Palm Beach New Times.   3 February 2012.

Kotz, Pete.   “The Super Bowl Prostitution Hoax.”    Riverfront Times.   2 February 2012.

What President Trump Means For Sexual Assault Survivors [REMIX]

There’s no denying that Trump’s objectification of women have left women and young girls feeling uneasy and disrespected. Many women, especially survivors of sexual assault, have little to no faith that their rights will be protected…or that the current president even cares about their rights at all. During Trump’s campaign season, rape crisis centers even saw a spike in calls and services. And a poll conducted during his campaign concluded that nearly half of teenage girls said Trump’s disparaging remarks have had a negative effect on the way they view their bodies. And for young women attending college, their concerns have only increased because it’s unclear how Congress and Trump’s administration could potentially affect Title IX and sexual assault victims for the next for years.

More than 50% of college sexual assaults occur in either August, September, October, or November.

Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 is a federal law that states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Some major points include:

  1. The prohibition of sex discrimination in schools. It protects pregnant and parenting students, women in STEM, sexual violence, etc. Sexual violence is defined as Sexual violence includes attempted or completed rape or sexual assault, as well as sexual harassment, stalking, voyeurism, exhibitionism, verbal or physical sexuality-based threats or abuse, and intimate partner violence.
  2. Any person from sex-based discrimination, regardless of their real or perceived sex, gender identity, and/or gender expression.
  3. Schools must take immediate steps to address any sex discrimination, sexual harassment or sexual violence on campus to prevent it from affecting students further. Schools may not discourage survivors from continuing their education, such as telling them to “take time off” or forcing them to quit a team, club or class.
  4. Every school must have a Title IX Coordinator who manages complaints. The Coordinator’s contact information should be publicly accessible on the school’s website and there should be an established procedure for handling complaints of sex discrimination, sexual harassment or sexual violence.

The Obama Administration intensified focus on campus sexual assault and Title IX prompted an outpouring of complaints and lawsuits against colleges and universities over claims they mishandled reports of sexual violence. In 2014, the administration made public the list of colleges currently under investigation. There are 216 open investigations that will now be handled by Trump’s administration.

College women are twice as likely to be sexually assaulted than robbed.

It’s unclear what Trump will do since he remained silent on the issue throughout his campaign. But the Republican party has criticized Obama for interpreting Title IX too broadly. The RNC further stated, “sexual assault is a “terrible crime,” but cases should be “investigated by civil authorities and prosecuted in a courtroom, not a faculty lounge.” Leaders from other organizations expressed similar concerns saying, “leaving these cases to the schools to adjudicate could violate a student’s right to due process.”

It’s believed that Trump’s administration will cut the budget for crisis hotlines, shelters, rape-kit testing, courts, law enforcement, rape crisis centers, and community outreach through the Violence Against Women Act, the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, and the Victims of Crime Act. However, Republicans introduced their own legislation,  the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, which aims to improve how public colleges and universities handle sexual assault and other violent crimes. It will require colleges to publish their crime stats on their websites, participate in a campus climate surveys, make confidential advisers available to students, and work closely with local police departments.

86% of sworn campus law enforcement officials have legal authority to make an arrest outside of the campus grounds.

Most of America believe the women who came forward with sex abuse allegations against President Trump. They watched as his misogynistic behavior and comments were leaked to the media. And they were shocked and dismayed when he unapologetically defended that behavior.

So, for the next four years, America will be led by a man who encourages “locker room” talk and believes women who can’t tolerate it shouldn’t be in the workforce. While his culture has negatively impacted the women of this country, I wonder whether the men will embrace it or take a stand to reject it.

[Read original article What “President Trump” Means for Sexual Assault Survivors.]

Triggers

A pedophile died on Sunday (or was it Monday?). And I posted how happy I was and that I was praying for the boys he sexually abused. But as I scrolled through Twitter and my Facebook timeline, I was shocked at the number of people who were paying him respect. They were saying no matter what he did, he was still a father and a husband and an anointed bishop.

It brought me to tears.

I won’t tarnish my blog by mentioning that pedophile’s name, but I couldn’t understand how so many people could gloss over what he did to those boys. I couldn’t stop crying. I avoided social media because reading those posts infuriated me. And I kept imagining those poor little boys being abused. Even writing this brings me to tears.

Then a Facebook friend tagged me in the following:

“My dear survivors: when an abuser dies, it often does not bring about the “relief” non-survivors insist you should feel. Instead, it often brings anger at confrontations that never occurred, sadness at admissions of shame/guilt never given, and frustration as the world chooses to focus only on the “good” of the deceased abuser because “one must not speak ill of the dead”. So, on this day as on every day when an abuser dies, we send love/comfort/support to all survivors.”

So how do I deal with triggers? I retreat and catch up on movies and tv shows. Also, I don’t take phone calls…not even from my daughter and as mentioned above, avoid social media. No one can help nor understand what I’m going through. And it’s not fair to put this weight on anyone.

For years, I used to drink it away but most recently, decided to cut back.

But the most effective coping mechanism I’ve used…avoidance. It seems to work best. Psychologists call it maladaptive. I call it necessary.

Book Review: The Path To Wealth

No, this isn’t the typical book review found on this site. The content I reviewed previously touched on some aspect of sexual abuse. But, this year, I want to share reviews of the inspirational books I’ve been reading lately. They’ve helped me immensely and I hope the reviews motivate you to pick up a copy.

Authored by May McCarthy, The Path To Wealth: Seven Spiritual Steps For Financial Abundance was gifted to me by Saba Tekle. Saba is the publisher of the uplifting anthology, 20 Beautiful Women. I first told my story in volume two of the series and ever since, Saba has given me wise counsel. Twice last year we spoke of the hardships I was facing, and she helped point me in the right direction. Calling her feeling lost once more, she ordered the book and I began reading.

And it provided the paradigm shift I desperately needed.

Well, I didn’t just read it; I did the work, a seven-step process to gain clarity and direction for your personal and professional life. The information is nothing new. They’re directives found in the Bible and advised by thousands of self-help gurus. But for some reason, the way it’s explained here was a turning point for me. Although I believed I was doing everything right: attending church, praying, reading the Bible, volunteering, etc. I didn’t see any real change in my spirit…or my situation.

What was I missing? Gratitude. Each day should begin writing a gratitude letter to the Creator. Once we recognize that He is the center of it all, we should go to Him everyday with an attitude of thanks. May explains when we do, the ideas we receive are directions He’s given to us. And we should follow them explicitly. Before, we were making decisions from our point of view and often times, not seeking God’s help. This way, we’re seeking God’s guidance before we start our day.

I’ve implemented this practice over the last few months and I’ve already seen a difference. Even during my most recent hardship, I kept a gracious attitude. In the midst of it, opportunities arose improving my situation until finally, I was able to see my way out. In the past, I would have sought vengeance, cussed people out and held onto the anger, telling everyone how I was betrayed. However, I simply walked away. Writing those gratitude letters in the morning gave me a new perspective. I couldn’t hold onto the hurt and anger long because I started my day with thanks. I’m unsure whether my situation would have improved if I hadn’t improved my attitude.

As a survivor, I’ve held onto so much anger for years. Much of it has been released after confronting some people, but still, it remained. With this new perspective however, I’ve learned to spend more time focusing on the good and much of the lingering anger withered away.

Because this book was gifted to me, I paid it forward and bought it for a friend. If you do decide to order the book, I invite you to pay it forward to a friend too.

(If you’re interested in sharing your story in 20 Beautiful Women or 20 Beautiful Men, click here.)